New Paths Newark Gives Reyes a Second Chance at a College Degree

July 5, 2019

After five years with the Elizabeth Board of Education and another ten years with the Newark Public Schools, Melisa Reyes found herself in an unusual place: unemployed.

Laid off by the Newark Public Schools, Reyes needed to make important decisions about her future and career – and she needed to do so quickly.

“When I received my lay-off letter from the Newark Public Schools [in 2013], I knew this was my chance to go back to school to earn a degree,” Reyes recalls. “While collecting unemployment I was able to start at Union County College but when my unemployment ran out, so did my school benefits. I thought that my dream to earn a degree was finished.”

That’s when her friend Jameliah, another former employee of the Newark Public Schools, told her about New Paths Newark.

The program, which is administered by the Community Foundation of New Jersey, is designed to dramatically improve employment prospects for civil service employees impacted by reductions in force conducted by the Newark Public Schools in years 2011 through 2015. New Paths Newark provides financial and academic supports that allow these individuals an opportunity to gain new skills and access 21st century career pathways.

Reyes made an appointment with the program’s administrator, Kevin Anthony, to learn about the opportunity. She signed up the same day.

Now in 2019, Melisa Reyes has an Associate’s Degree from Union County College and is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree at Kean University – both degrees in Public Administration. Some of her classes are, in fact, Master’s classes, which would count toward another future degree. Reyes is a member of two honor societies and ranks in the top 10 percent of her class, all while holding a full-time job.

With a year left to graduate, Reyes calls New Paths Newark her second chance to achieve what she always sought: a college degree.

The Community Foundation of New Jersey is proud to administer this public-nonprofit partnership that is transforming lives like Melisa Reyes’. To learn more about New Paths Newark, visit or contact Kevin Anthony at